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Massachusetts Jury Finds Doctor Breached Standard of Care Leading to Woman’s Death; Family Awarded $4,000,000

At the end of 2007, Marie Gabriel-Gelin found out that she was pregnant with her fourth child. Gabriel-Gelin, 36 at the time, and her doctors at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, MA decided that a cesarean section was the best option for a safe delivery. However, during her pregnancy she became anemic, making a cesarean section risky because of her lack of healthy red blood cells. On August 5, 2008, Gabriel-Gelin successfully gave birth to a baby boy by C-section. But just hours later she suffered from cardiac arrest leading to her death.

According to a 2011 medical malpractice lawsuit, filed on behalf of Gabriel-Gelin’s family, one of the doctors allegedly punctured her bowel during the procedure. A surgeon repaired the damage, but Gabriel-Gelin lost a significant amount of blood during the process. Her lawyers argued that Dr. Shobha Sikka did not follow the proper standard of care when performing the procedure, which they claimed led to Gabriel-Gelin’s death. It was argued in court that her doctor should have been better prepared to address the blood loss because of her documented anemia.

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“The defendants were aware that since Marie had lost a substantial amount of blood during delivery and that she was anemic, she was at risk of a life-threatening condition if she lost any more blood,” wrote one of the attorneys representing Gabriel-Gelin’s family. “Nevertheless, they failed to order immediate and aggressive treatment.”

The lawsuit went to trial in the Norfolk Superior Court in the beginning of September 2017. The trial lasted for about a month and the jury deliberated for four days before coming back with a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on October 5, 2017. The Massachusetts jury found that Dr. Sikka was liable for the wrongful death and awarded $4 million to Gabriel-Gelin’s family for her pain and suffering.

“This was a long road to justice,” said one of the family’s lawyers after the trial. “The child that was born is now nine years old. These cases can take a lot longer than they should, but it is rewarding when justice is ultimately served.”

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